On this day in 1956, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) did something that its late founder, Henry Ford, had wanted to avoid at all costs: It went public.
Ford’s initial public offering, on Jan. 17, 1956, was the largest in American history up to that time. No surprise, as the Blue Oval was one of America’s largest companies: Newly public Ford entered the 1956 Fortune 500 at No. 3, behind only General Motors (NYSE: GM) and the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (the company that later became Exxon).
The Ford stock that was sold in that initial offering fetched about $643 million. But none of that went to Ford, and Ford didn’t need it anyway. So why did it happen? Here’s the story: